warner rsl 2017
Jordan Johnson

Minnesota United FC vs. Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Match Preview

MINNESOTA UNITED FC vs. REAL SALT LAKE
TCF Bank Stadium | Minneapolis, Minnesota
07.14.18 | MLS Week No. 20 | MLS Game No. 19
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

As it resumes a critical stretch of six of eight matches at home, Minnesota United is striving to reclaim its lost momentum when it hosts a surging Real Salt Lake side on Saturday. RSL comes to Minneapolis having won its last two matches after picking up just a single point in its previous four (0-3-1).

MNUFC will kick off against Real Salt Lake at 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 14 at TCF Bank Stadium. Pre-match coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

TICKETS

“It is another difficult game for us, but as we have proved at home we are more than a match for anybody,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “(RSL) started well, then they had that rocky period, and then they have come back again. If we can have a similar performance as we did against Toronto then it should be a good evening.”

With a crucial slate of home matches in front of it, Minnesota is vying to reclaim the confidence from its thrilling home win over Toronto last Wednesday that was tempered by a discouraging setback in Houston on Saturday. It will be vital for the Loons’ postseason hopes to do so quickly with their next three matches all at TCF Bank Stadium and nine invaluable points on the line.

MNUFC has thoroughly assessed the loss to the Dynamo and is eager to move on. A second straight win at home would surely be the ideal way to wash that sour taste from their mouths and set themselves up for the success it needs this month.

“We are going to have to come out how we came out against Toronto,” midfielder Miguel Ibarra, who preached the importance of hard work, said. “We came out on the gas pedal and got two goals right away. We know we are a home team. The fans help us out a lot and give us a lot of energy. We are a team that is hungry for points. If we want to make that playoff run we have to win as many matches as we can.”

Though Real Salt Lake sits in fourth place in the Western Conference, Minnesota will no doubt see an opportunity to exploit the RSL’s less than stellar away form. The Claret-and-Cobalt is just 1-7-1 on the road, has lost two straight, has not scored more than one goal and has been outscored, 22-6, in nine road matches this season.

However, Real Salt Lake comes in hot on the strength of back-to-back impressive home wins — defeating Sporting Kansas City, 4-2, and Western Conference-leading FC Dallas, 2-0. Midfielder Albert Rusnák is the straw that stirs the team’s attacking drink. After leading the club in scoring a season ago, the Slovak is tied with forwards Corey Baird and Luis Silva for the RSL goals lead with five and ranks second behind only midfielder Damir Kreilach with four assists.

“They have brought some really good young pieces in,” Heath said. “They are very good on the counterattack and they try to play football. The majority of the teams in this league get most of their points at home and we are no different. Our away form puts some more pressure on us to get points at home. We have been competitive against everybody. If that continues I will be pleased.”

After Saturday night’s match, Minnesota United quickly returns to TCF Bank Stadium for a midweek clash against New England Revolution on Wednesday, July 14. Kick off for the East meets West tilt is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Pre-match coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United
OUT:
D – Jerome Thiesson (right lower leg injury)
M – Sam Cronin (cervicogenic dysfunction)
M – Ethan Finlay (right ACL tear)
M – Kevin Molino (left ACL tear)

QUESTIONABLE:
D – Marc Burch (left knee injury)
F – Abu Danladi (left leg injury)

Real Salt Lake
OUT:
D – Shawn Barry (knee injury)
D – Tony Beltran (right knee surgery)
D – David Horst (Achilles surgery)
D – Demar Phillips (ankle injury)
M – Jordan Allen (knee surgery)
M – Luke Mulholland (back injury)
F – Ricky Lopez-Espin (knee surgery)
GK – Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery)
GK – Connor Sparrow (knee injury)

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Minnesota United earned its first-ever MLS win against Real Salt Lake. The Loons claimed a 4-2 win over RSL at home on April 1, 2017 with two goals from Christian Ramirez leading the way with Kevin Molino and Johan Venegas also getting on the scoresheet.
  • Ramirez set two club records that still stand in that April 1 match. His six total shots and four shots on goal are still tied for the most in single match since MNUFC joined MLS.
  • MNUFC scored three goals in one half during its win over RSL. It has only equaled that mark once since that match, scoring three in the second half of a 3-2 comeback against Atlanta United FC.
  • Bobby Shuttleworth made eight saves against Real Salt Lake in the last meeting between the clubs. It was a single-match club record that stood until May 20, 2018 when Shuttleworth made nine stops against Sporting Kansas City.
  • Darwin Quintero is one of seven players with a hat trick this season.
  • Minnesota recently signed its second Designated Player in club history: Angelo Rodriguez. The Columbian forward comes to Minnesota from Deportes Tolima.
  • The Loons signed midfielder Romario Ibarra earlier this week. The Ecuador international was transferred to MNUFC from Chile’s Universidad Catolica.
  • Nick Rimando has played every minute for RSL this season.
  • Miguel Ibarra and Damir Kreilach both have three match-winning assists this season. They are tied for second in MLS behind Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti’s four.
  • RSL has taken just 76 corner kicks, the second-lowest in MLS. Minnesota has taken 83.
  • With four goals from penalty kicks, Real Salt Lake is tied for the third-most in the league.
  • Minnesota scores on 12.4% of its shots. RSL finds the back of the net on 9.9% of its attempts.
  • 38% of both teams’ shots end up on goal.
  • Marc Burch (1A), Sam Cronin (1G), Ethan Finlay (2G/1A), Tyrone Mears (1A), Molino (1G/2A), Ramirez (2G) and Venegas (1G) have career points against Real Salt Lake.
  • Shuttleworth has two career clean sheets against RSL.
  • Collen Warner had five assists during his two seasons with RSL. He made 37 regular season appearances and one in the playoffs.
  • Luke Mulholland played for Minnesota United in the NASL era of the club’s history. He joined the club late in 2011, helping it to the 2011 NASL Championship.
  • Collen Warner began his career with RSL after being drafted 15th overall by the club in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He played two seasons with the club.
  • David Horst and Warner were teammates on the Houston Dynamo in 2016.
  • Luis Silva and Collin Martin were both on D.C. United’s roster from 2013 to 2015.
  • Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Miguel Ibarra have played together on the U.S. national team. Rimando has tended goal in all three of Ibarra’s appearances, starting on October 14, 2014 against Honduras. They then took the field together on February 8, 2015 against Panama followed by a match against Mexico on April 15, 2015 where they were joined by Beckerman.
  • Tony Beltran, Rimando, Jose Hernandez and Abu Danladi all played college soccer for UCLA.
  • Connor Sparrow, Ricky Lopez, Brent Kallman, Ethan Finlay and Eric Miller played for Creighton University when they were in college.
  • Albert Rusnak and Tyrone Mears are both products of the Manchester City academy.
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